Think Again: Understanding Concussion

Let's open a concussion discussion by learning to recognize the signs and symptoms.

Diagnostics Testing|Nov.19, 2021

It's not just athletes at risk for mild traumatic brain injuries (TBI), commonly called concussions.1 Concussions affect everyone.

In fact, concussions can occur even without a blow to the head. They're caused when any external force shakes or jostles the brain inside the skull. This can happen in slips and falls, as well as car and bike accidents.

Forty-eight percent of TBI-related emergency department visits are caused by falls.1 Falls are most common in children and the elderly, causing almost half of all concussions in children 17 years old and under and more than 80% of those in people over age 65.1

Here are some other important facts around concussion:

  • Concussions are most often caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head that disrupts normal brain function.
  • Millions of concussions occur in the United States annually, and it is thought up to 50% still go unreported.2
  • Some concussion symptoms may not show up for hours or days.3
  • Athletes who have previously sustained a concussion have a greater chance of sustaining another one.4

Learn the Symptoms of Concussion

Many people don't realize that a concussion can be difficult to diagnose because, until now, there has been no test that could rapidly and objectively help to detect TBI. Some methods for diagnosis, such as basic questions and answers during a doctor's exam, are fairly subjective. CT scans can help, but the majority of mild TBIs show normal imaging even though an injury has occurred. Because of this, many concussions continue to go unnoticed and untreated. That's why we’ve developed our i-STAT TBI Plasma test, a blood plasma test designed to detect specific proteins that are released in the blood when someone has a brain injury.

It's important to recognize symptoms of concussion, such as:

  • Physical: Headache; fuzzy or blurry vision; nausea or vomiting (early on); dizziness; sensitivity to noise or light; balance problems; feeling tired or lacking energy
  • Thinking/Remembering: Difficulty thinking clearly; feeling slowed down; difficulty concentrating; difficulty remembering new information
  • Emotions/Mood: Irritability; sadness; being more emotional than usual; nervousness or anxiety
  • Sleep: Sleeping more or less than usual; trouble falling asleep

When it comes to concussion, Dr. Beth McQuiston, M.D., board certified neurologist and medical director in Abbott's diagnostics business, recommends remembering to stay on PAR.

  • Prevent concussions by protecting yourself (such as wearing a helmet and following all safety recommendations)
  • Ask a doctor or healthcare provider to assess your symptoms
  • Rest to give your brain time to heal

We encourage everyone to learn how to recognize concussion symptoms and seek testing and, if needed, care. The sooner concussion is detected, the sooner you can rest and recover to prevent long-term effects and resume a healthy and active life.

Learn more about TBI and concussion.


1 Traumatic Brain Injury in the United States: Fact Sheet. Website:
2 Skerrett, PJ. New concussion guidelines say “When in doubt, sit it out.” Harvard Health. March 18, 2013. Website: Accessed Feb. 25, 2015.
3 Heads Up: Concussion Signs and Symptoms. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Website:
4 Concussion and Sports. Website: